Scholars Take a Stand on Video Games, Violence, and Policy
It may not be the stand you would expect. I know that developers often feel like easy targets for researchers and pundits, and it’s often the truth. However, the research community such as it is, is not uniformly in one camp or another. There are a handful of particularly outspoken scholars who believe games are a real danger, but a vastly larger number who are more balanced in their approach.
Why does this matter now? The American Psychological Association maintains a task force on violent media whose findings will be highly influential among policy makers. If the APA decrees that there is strong evidence that games are dangerous, it will be used as both evidence and ammunition for laws restricting them. In 2005, the APA put out a strong statement to that effect, with predictable results, leading all the way to the Supreme Court (which struck the laws down).
The APA is reviewing that statement, and this time around the legal implications may not be as grave, but they will still matter. As cultural warfare goes, the battle will rage regardless. But now the larger scholarly community is more aware of this policy issue and is not at all pleased with how it played out last time around.
Chris Ferguson is probably the most outspoken critic of the anti-gaming movement. He drafted a letter asking the APA to back down from its claims based on a lack of scientific evidence and a distinct lack of consensus. This is no fringe group denying global warming. Indeed, when Prof. Ferguson put out his policy statement and asked for signatories, the result was a landslide of backers across the scientific community.
You can read the statement here, and see the dizzying list of signatories at the end: